An Enduring Approach to U.S.-Russian Cooperation

An Enduring Approach to U.S.-Russian Cooperation
Policy Outlook
Making the U.S.-Russian Bilateral Presidential Commission a permanent structure will help ensure continued success in managing relations between the two countries.
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July 2011 marks two years since the creation of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission (BPC), a critical framework for managing U.S.-Russian cooperation across multiple areas in the wake of the 2009 “reset.” Now with more than 20 working groups bringing together dozens of interagency stakeholders, the BPC has enabled effective cooperation on a broad bilateral agenda, ranging from nuclear arms control and nonproliferation to exchange programs, and from disaster response to prison reform. Yet there is still a real risk that successful U.S.-Russian cooperation could derail as it has in the past—especially in light of ongoing budgetary pressures, serious outstanding disagreements on security issues, and upcoming elections in both countries.

The best mechanism to ensure continued success in managing U.S.-Russian relations is to endow the BPC with the structure and resources it needs to become an enduring foundation for intergovernmental and societal cooperation. Now is also the time to undertake a critical reevaluation of U.S. assistance programs for Russia, in light of the Russian government’s clear message that, while it values cooperation, it has outgrown its role as an “assistance recipient.” Fortunately, the BPC offers an ideal vehicle to re-channel important programs for bilateral engagement, and with additional resources the commission and its working groups can provide much-needed oversight to ensure that resources are  spent most effectively. The following measures should be undertaken to begin the process of reforming and strengthening the BPC:

  • Create a BPC secretariat led by a senior official and empowered to coordinate all BPC funds and activities, with staff based at the U.S. Department of State and at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow;
  • Conduct a comprehensive census of all current funding allocated for U.S. government work in and with Russia to facilitate a transition from foreign assistance–based interaction to that of cooperative engagement;
  • Allocate monies previously dedicated to assistance to the BPC secretariat to support current cooperative work and to provide seed funding for future programs;
  • Clearly define the roles of all government agencies participating in BPC working groups, and offer an explicit mechanism for nongovernmental stakeholders to become and remain involved; and
  • Retain the BPC’s focus on results, minimal reporting and paperwork burdens, and flexible approach to working group meetings, including the use of technology to facilitate informal contacts.

Through the accomplishments of the BPC and its working groups, the United States and Russia have made a promising beginning. Now it is time to cement these frameworks into a solid foundation for future success by endowing the BPC with the resources it needs to withstand the challenges that lie ahead.

End of document

About the Russia and Eurasia Program

The Carnegie Russia and Eurasia Program has, since the end of the Cold War, led the field of Eurasian security, including strategic nuclear weapons and nonproliferation, development, economic and social issues, governance, and the rule of law.




U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission

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of the Chinese general public

believe their country should share a global leadership role.


of Indian parliamentarians

have criminal cases pending against them.


charter schools in the United States

are linked to Turkey’s Gülen movement.


thousand tons of chemical weapons

are in North Korea’s possession.


of import tariffs

among Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru have been eliminated.


trillion a year

is unaccounted for in official Chinese income statistics.


of GDP in oil-exporting Arab countries

comes from the mining sector.


of Europeans and Turks

are opposed to intervention in Syria.


of Russian exports to China

are hydrocarbons; machinery accounts for less than 1%.


of undiscovered oil

is in the Arctic.


U.S. government shutdowns

occurred between 1976 and 1996.


of Ukrainians

want an “international economic union” with the EU.


million electric bicycles

are used in Chinese cities.


of the world’s energy supply

is consumed by cities.


of today’s oils

require unconventional extraction techniques.


of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.


of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.


of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.


of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.


million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3


now needs urgent assistance.


political parties

contested India’s last national elections.


of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.


of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.


of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.


of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.


billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.


billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.


increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.


billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.


of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.



were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.

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